Monks to enroll in 'e-religion' project

Monks will be able to use the Internet as a teaching tool under an "e-religion" project sponsored by the Religious Affairs Department and the Education Ministry.

Starting in April, about 100 monks nationwide will come to Bangkok for IT training, including website construction and network maintenance.

Following the one-week workshop, these monks will return to their temples and train their brethren, said Kla Somtrakool, director-general of the Religious Affairs Department.

The department will allow one or two temples from each province to join the pilot project, he said, adding that each temple would have three to five desktop computers to use. The agencies will provide free Internet access via a telephone line or satellite dish on the government's Ednet network.

Kla said the project would expand the temple's traditional role as a community learning centre by offering free local Internet access and IT training to local people.

He said the department expected the scheme to reduce social problems since people could become closer to Buddhism as a result of universal Internet access. Temples have long been the learning centres of communities and nearby areas.

"It will be a centre where people can learn new technology and access the Internet free of charge."

For Thais living overseas without Internet access, the Religious Affairs department will produce a CD-Rom on Buddhist living, including instruction in prayer, chanting and meditation.